Saturday, May 21, 2005

Recently Read: I'm Not the New Me by Wendy McClure

A few weeks ago I read blogger Wendy McClure's new memoir, I'm Not the New Me. It fell through the cracks of my blogging life, maybe because I didn't find it too memorable. I guess I expected more from this book, given Wendy McClure's blogging fame -- her blog is Pound at poundy.com (not much going on there right now, as McClure is busy promoting the new book).

I'm Not the New Me is strongest when McClure is focusing squarely on her life -- her friends, her family, her would-be suitors. However, perhaps to try to tie it in to her popular blog (which she started to chronicle her diet and weight loss), the book is billed as being about weight and related self-esteem issues. That is grossly misleading, and also, it ignores the real strengths of McClure's memoir -- namely, her distinctive voice when describing the details of her life (beyond the body thing, which fortunately takes up little textual space). The weakest parts, for me, were the ones about fatness, particularly her discourses on fat girls in general (the prologue 'how to tell a fat girl story' and the chapter titled 'invisible jet' are particularly unfortunate examples, which would have been best sacrificed for the greater good of the book). I also found the reprints of the disgusting 70s Weight Watchers recipe cards superfluous -- and McClure's commentary not particularly funny or enlightening (yes, I know, the cards also tie into her blogging fame...).

My recommendation: skim it (and definitely skip the 'fat girl' parts). I am curious, though, about what Wendy McClure will publish next -- I think that she will blossom as a writer (and as a memoirist) when she is no longer tied to the premise of her blog as the justification for her publishing contract. I definitely look forward to that!

For more information:

  • Website for I'm Not the New Me - it includes lots of blurbs with opinions that are a lot more enthusiastic than mine...

  • Wendy McClure's blog, Pound.

  • Interview with Wendy McClure at zulkey.com

  • Brief bio from the Penguin USA site.

  • Boston Globe article, "From blog to book, chasing the thin line"

  • Q: For a book ostensibly about weight loss, you don't talk about food much. Why not?

    A: I don't know. I think there's a lot of [writing] about weight where the person has a food addiction. I don't. As far as obsessing, I can't say I really do it. I think it's like this for a lot of people. If people obsess about food that way, it would just be so obvious. I tried to reflect that a little bit. I've resented TV shows that have [overweight people] who have candy bars in their pockets.
    .....
    Q: Although the book claims to be a memoir about weight loss, ''I'm Not the New Me" seems to have a different theme altogether at its core. It could be described as the tension between being out there on the web, living in cyberspace, and the struggle to stay in everyday reality, to stay in the moment.

    A: Definitely. . . . I wanted to do something with that. So much about putting oneself online is about negotiating how you appear. If you go to . . . any blog by women in high school and college, if you look at the pictures, the pictures are taken from above to minimize their chin, and some web logs have a small picture on line.

  • If you must, go here to view Wendy McClure's collection of Weight Watchers recipe cards.

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